automatic writing

Automatic Writing — Window to the Subconscious Mind

Automatic writing is a powerful way to connect with our subconscious mind.  Learn how this process can benefit your inner work.

What is Automatic Writing?

Automatic writing is a method of writing which creates a window into the subconscious.  In essence, writing without engaging the conscious mind.  As a result, it brings to light the deepest secrets of the psyche. For instance, it shows us underlying thinking patterns, the symbols of our fears and forgotten memories.

Where Does Automatic Writing Come From?

Automatic writing, freewriting or spirit writing are all names for the same process.  The origins of this method are unknown.  It appears first in the Modern Spiritualism movement in the late 1800s.  In short, it’s parlor entertainment for the rich social élite led by celebrity Spiritualists. This entertainment included a variety of mystical practices such as séances, spirit channeling, fortune-telling, tarot card readings, and divination. Automatic writing became another tool for contacting the spirits of deceased loved ones.  People still associate automatic writing with this Spiritualism movement.

It’s a tool of the mystic, poet and writer. For example, Evelyn Underhill, a Christian mystic discusses the process in “Mysticism, A Study in the Nature and Development of Man’s Spiritual Consciousness,” 1912 PP 94-95.  Here she refers to it as a method of heightened consciousness or automatic state.

Ms. Underhill describes it as a method to stimulate dormant intuition and show the connection between memory and emotion.   Other writers with interests in mysticism also talk about using this method.  For instance,  William Butler Yeats talks about using this process at great length. And, American author Jack Kerouac explains his use of the process, “Essentials of Spontaneous Prose“.

Automatic writing is a tool of Carl Jung, philosopher, and developer of modern psychiatry.  “Active imagination and automatic writing, painting and carving pictures from the unconscious, are all indirect methods of finding out what the unconscious means.” — Carl Jung, Jung-Ostrowski PP 18

Jung talks of using the process for channeling ancient personalities.  Perhaps this was a contributing factor for his break with both Sigmund Freud and Friedrich Nietzsche?

How Does Automatic Writing Work?

This process enables us to use the stream of awareness below conscious thinking.  The subconscious has several levels.  At the core is our monkey brain or primitive brain. This is the home of the autonomic nervous system.  This controls the internal systems of our body.  For instance, it controls our breathing, heart rate, digestion, liver, kidneys, and bladder (among other things).  Automatic writing doesn’t access this aspect of the mind directly.  However, this part of the mind links our emotions like fear and anger to our fight, flight or freeze response. So, our cultural programming often links to these primal emotional responses.

Next, we have the default settings of our Ego. This is the home of our personality and instincts.  Each of these has its tendencies and thought patterns.  Last is our cultural programming.  This is the filter which colors our beliefs and values.  So, automatic writing creates a window to help us see these mechanisms of the mind.  This process also links us to our emotional center.  Some call this observer of our consciousness, the thing we call spirit or soul.

Additionally, some believe this process can open access to spiritual energies or entities.  Again, this depends on the beliefs of your cultural background.

Is Automatic Writing the same as Morning Pages?

The short answer is yes.  It is the same thing.  In other words, “stream of consciousness writing”, and “morning pages” are all names for the same process.

What Are the Benefits of Automatic Writing?

Learning about your mind will give insight into your Ego.  In turn, this will help you avoid issues and solve a variety of problems.  So, it helps to prepare us to meet the challenges of life.

W are creatures of habit.  So, it is easy to allow the habitual patterns of thought to run our lives.  This hinders our growth.   The process of automatic writing can help us see what’s holding us back.  This helps with all kinds of mental roadblocks.  This means everything from roadblocks in creativity and spiritual practice to finding work. It helps in finding the friction points in relationships since you are at least 50% of the equation.

Automatic writing will help you learn about your habitual nature.  With this knowledge, you can employ practical tactics to turn bad habits into good habits.

Is Automatic Writing Hypnosis?

It all depends on how you define them.  Some people think automatic writing and hypnotism are the same things.  This is because they both produce an altered state. However, they use two different approaches. And, produce altered states which differ in several important ways.

With hypnosis, you allow someone to guide and focus your attention. Giving your guide control makes you susceptible to suggestion.  This results in a trance very much like sleepwalking.  So, you are not aware of your surroundings.  On the positive side, this process can get access to important details of memories.  And, in therapy, it can help change unwanted behaviors or addictions.  On the negative side, it also enables someone to insert suggestions into your subconscious.

Automatic writing uses a different approach. Instead, of concentrating you allow the mind to wander.  Next, add an unfocused stare or gaze.  In other words, use peripheral vision. This recipe produces an altered state of awareness similar to daydreaming.  So, you are aware of your surroundings.  You are aware you are writing, but not directing the content.  This allows you to reach the subconscious stream of thought.  On the positive side, this produces a wealth of insight into the Ego.  On the negative side, it also opens the door to any repressed emotional issues and fears.

Is Automatic Writing Demonic?

That depends on what you believe. Many people believe in demons. Demons are part of the Persian mythology of the dying gods that made its way into Western theology. This includes the three branches of the Abrahamic Traditions which are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Together these belief systems have over 3 billion members.  These systems dominate our cultural narrative.  The massive social reach effects non-believers. Demons are powerful symbols or typologies in our culture.  They are a popular genre in TV and movies as well as religion.  However, that doesn’t make them real.

So, it’s important to remember that automatic writing can trigger our primal fear instinct. This is our fight, flight, or freeze response.  Whatever typologies or symbols you associate with your deepest fears are likely to show up.  And, deep fears can cause hallucinations.  Thus, if you are prone to seeing aliens or demons, then these typologies may surface.  We’ll discuss this more in the dangers of automatic writing.

The Dangers of Automatic Writing

The biggest danger is to venture unprepared.  See the above concern about symbols of your fear typologies. Next, the Second biggest danger is to use it as a parlor game.  This is serious inner work.  Please take it seriously.

This process will bring up repressed memories, along with deep emotional and psychological truths.  So, prepare properly before engaging in any inner work. By all means, make sure you are ready to use this process.

Determining Readiness

This is a very important step.  Determine if you are ready to use this process before you try it.   Be honest with your answers to the following questions.  These are the best practices which make sure you get the most out of this process:

First — Prepare Mentally

If you are undergoing mental health treatment, be sure to consult your doctor before using this process.  They may give you further instruction for your situation. Above all, keep your overall health and wellness in mind.   After all, this is a powerful process which can bring up repressed memories and feelings.  So, you want to start the process with a grounded healthy state of mind.  Otherwise, we recommend you wait until you are.

Again, don’t discount the typologies of your cultural narrative.  Whatever fears your religion instills will likely surface.  This is how they keep you a paying customer.

Second — Use a Journal

We recommend you use a spiritual journal.  Your journal should include your dreams, experiences in spiritual practices as well as automatic writing data.  This will give you a more accurate picture of your psyche.  A spiritual journal is also your book of shadows.  This is because it exposes shadows of your subconscious mind.  Above all, keep these journals secure.  They are for your personal use.

It’s important to check the data from your sessions for trends.  The more sessions you complete the more you will learn.  Review it for repeating typologies or patterns and designs. Also, remember you are the best person to understand what this data means.

Three — Use The Enneagram Profile

Complete the Enneagram Personality Profile personality and instinctual stack tests.  Find out about the default though patterns associated with your type.  These will probably surface during the automatic writing process.  And, the Enneagram can also show you how to handle the common patterns and fears for your type.

Finally, if it is your first time it best to use with a partner whom you trust.  It’s also a good idea to use it within the scope of a monitored curriculum.  Either way set a timer for your practice.  Take it slowly at first.

Tips for Automatic Writing

Here are some best practices for this process:

  • We recommend you record in a spiritual journal.  Use a pen, or pencil on paper.
  • Use Peripheral vision.  Don’t focus on the writing surface.
  • Some prefer sitting in silence while others like to listen to music.  You decide.
  • Don’t care about what you write. And, don’t force anything to happen.
  • Trust yourself. Don’t think about what you are writing.
  • Sit until you feel ready, then just let your hand move.
  • Doodle…draw pictures…let it happen.
  • Electronic mediums don’t work well with this process.  You can’t allow your hand to flow.  And so, you can’t fully express yourself.
  • Your handwriting style and tempo are very important. The amount of slant in the letters in your handwriting, the size, and spacing of characters are all important clues to your state of mind.
  • Don’t edit yourself. Don’t worry about grammar and spelling.
  • You may end up with scribbling.  That’s okay. You may see patterns, designs or trends that develop over time.   Don’t discount what you do not immediately understand.
  • It’s important to realize that things may come up after the exercise is complete. So, keep your journal handy throughout the day if possible. Later thoughts may come to you that relate to your spiritual practice.  Be sure to write them down but not while in traffic or walking.
  • Don’t draw judgments about the value of your writing.
  • Writing like this is hard inner work.  Stop when you need to.
  • Review the notes of your practice after you’ve rested.  Review with a fresh perspective.
Use Emotional Checks

Anytime you engage in spiritual research we recommend the use of emotional checks.  This is a process to help you stay as unbiased as possible.  It can help you keep calm during your automatic writing sessions.

Emotional checks will reduce stress and increase the accuracy of our research. So, think of it as a safety net.  It will catch us when we fall into emotional distress. This is because when we face ideas conflicting with our current opinion it creates a dilemma.  We instinctively react to protect our sacred ground.  You don’t want to conduct research while in a state of distress.

In Conclusion

Thanks for reading this article.  We hope this helps you on your journey.  Automatic writing is a powerful tool for inner work. It is most definitely a window to the subconscious. So, preparation is key to the safe use of this process. You can find more mind-opening topics on our blog. Also, please take a few minutes to learn about our mission at the “about” tab.  If you have questions about spiritual exploration, then click on the frequently asked questions tab FAQ.

Our blended learning process at the core of our mission.  This makes it possible for people to learn several techniques at the same time.  And, it aligns perfectly with the phases of the Hero’s Journey.  This is the term Joseph Campbell uses to describe the universal pattern of consciousness development.

Also, if this inner quest is of interest check out the virtual learning sessions link.  It mirrors the curriculum in our face-to-face workshops.  And, please consider donating to support our mission of providing these ancient spiritual development tools.

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